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Highway death spurs meeting of Fla. rabbis and state over safety

(JTA) — In the aftermath of a fatal accident involving an Orthodox Jewish woman, a Florida Department of Transportation engineer met with local rabbis in the Jacksonville area to talk about new safety measures.

The Transportation Department has attempted to put measures in place that do not violate Jewish law on Shabbat, the Florida Times-Union reported, since Esther Ohayon was killed last month while crossing a highway to reach Yom Kippur services.

The meeting took place on Monday.

Orthodox Jews in the area had been walking around a microwave sensor that triggered the walk signal and did not press the walk button associated with the intersection — both would violate Jewish law.

With the walk button, pedestrians have 49.5 seconds to cross the major eight-lane highway. Without the button they have 11 seconds, according to the Florida Times-Union.

The engineering department has  installed a camera system for activating the walk signal that does not have to turn on or off, thus not violating the Sabbath laws.

The rabbis and the engineer have been meeting regularly since the death of Ohayon, a native of Israel, on Sept. 13. Her 16-year-old daughter, Orly, was seriously injured in the accident.

 

 

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